Duncan Rawlinson

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  • in reply to: Assignment 1 #18764
    Duncan Rawlinson


    For starters I think you’ve done a wonderful job on this assignment. The assignment was to make something “everyday” look more magnificent. I think your photograph is one of the best examples we have of this to date. Good job.

    Let me begin by talking about what I think you’ve done correctly. For starters, your choice of incorporating a few dramatic colors was great. You kept the number of colors limited to 3 which maintains the photographs simplicity and organization. You’ll learn in an upcoming lesson the importance of color simplicity.

    Secondly, you’ve used lines very well in this photograph. The photograph is very mechanical. Almost industrial. All of your lines are very straight but they all point in different direction. You have your main line of the stapler going horizontal. A piece of paper going vertical and the top half of the stapler going diagonal. This creates a “triangle” which is one of the most visually pleasing shapes to look at in a photograph (You’ll also learn that in an upcoming photograph). I’m not sure if that was intentional or not, but humans are drawn to triangular shapes within photographs. You’ll see examples of this in your upcoming lesson on composition.

    My only criticism has to do with your camera’s ability to operate under such strange lighting conditions. Because you took this shot in such an artificial lighting environment, your camera had a hard time shading the gradient of the green close to the center of the paper. It looks slightly “blown” out. This just means your camera had a hard time adjusting to the right contrast because you have extremely bright colors and extremely dark colors. Most cameras have this problem, but it’s worth being aware of because such errors are almost impossible to see in a viewfinder and only show up once the image is enlarged. You’ll notice a sort of “pixilation” around the outskirts of the light green area as it blends into darker greens. It’s a form of “digital deterioration” and something you’ll want to try to avoid in future pictures.

    Overall… great work.

    in reply to: Lesson 5 Assignment Entry #18761
    Duncan Rawlinson


    Great shot. I’m very interested in seeing more of that blue tractor. I have a feeling there are many more shot possibilities with that object as your main area of focus. The colors and the textures alone are worth photographing. However, equally, if not more interesting, is the contrast in this picture. By that I don’t mean color contrast, I mean the contrast between:

    Nature vs. Machine
    Technology vs. Decay

    There are so many interesting possibilities within this photograph. If I were you I would move in closer to the textures in the tractor. I think showing the contrast between the rust and the vibrant blue colors could create some very interesting shots. There is always something visually appealing about the texture of rust on metal surfaces. Try shooting this again, closer up when you have sufficient lighting coming from the side (this will help bring out the texture).

    Strictly from a technical standpoint, you’ve accomplished what was asked of you for this assignment. However, I want to call attention to one element that you effectively eliminated in your last assignments photograph but has crept back into this photograph.

    The details of your sky in this picture are completely lost. In order to expose the brush and tractor properly, your camera overexposed the sky. It becomes a lifeless white blog without the texture of a sky. It usually happens do to the limitation of the camera and when you’re shooting in “auto” setting it’s a good compromise. However, it’s still not desirable. I think in this case you could have benefited from removing the sky from the picture totally. Again, this goes back to my previous point about “moving in closer”. This will help eliminate those details. It would also help to further color simplify this photograph since you wouldn’t have the obvious white tone in the background of the image. Instead you would have a stronger focus on your brilliant green and blue colors.

    Overall, great work though. I look forward to seeing what you can create for your next assignment.

    in reply to: Lesson 5 #18760
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Hello Amelia.

    You’ve followed the instructions of the assignment perfectly. You’ve simplified this photography down into three main hues (orange, blue and green). It’s a dramatic photograph because of the contrasting colors which makes it exciting to look at.

    You’ve used, more or less, equal amount of blue and orange in this photograph while the green color is noticeable but definitely not one of your primary colors. The green serves as a “highlight” color. The result of using 50% blue and the 50% orange is a photograph that is neither “warm” nor “cool”. It instead, has a balanced look to it. Which is fine, but sometimes tipping the scale in favour of one tone over the other can lead to some interesting results. What’s interesting is that there are “gradients” in all of the colors you chose in this photograph. The green goes from light to dark as does the blue and the orange. This helps add dimension and shape to your photograph and ensures it doesn’t become “flat” or “boring”.

    I hope you have noticed two things by following this exercise. First, the color simplification doesn’t come easy in a world so full of every color imaginable. Finding ways to simplify the photograph from a color standpoint takes a photographers keen and trained eye. Secondly, I hope you are staring to find that “less is more”. While this isn’t always the case, one of the backbones of this course is to teach you how composition is knowing as much what to leave out of the frame as it is knowing what to include within the frame.

    Great work Amelia. I look forward to seeing your next assignment.

    in reply to: Lesson Four #18758
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Great shot.

    I’m not sure what filter you used (maybe a polarizing or UV filter?). You’ve also turned down the exposure setting which has allowed you to enhance the blue in the sky. However, I notice a theme in your photographs. You aren’t using “layers”. All of your attention is placed on one depth. You don’t use the three layers of space.

    The foreground

    In your next sequence of photographs I want you to try to add layers to your photograph by having objects in your foreground, middleground and background. Right now your photographs are a little “flat”. You can easily change this by using layers to create depth. There is a great article here I want you to read.


    I look forward to seeing your next assignment!

    in reply to: Third assignment #18759
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Your flower shot is absolutely breathtaking. The colors had me mesmerized for a while. What a dramatic choice of colors. They colors work well in that photograph because they slightly contrast one another. Likewise, you’ve done a great job of color simplicity. You’ve really narrowed this image down to two primary colors: blue and green. The yellow middles to the flowers act as great highlights further enhancing your photograph. From a composition standpoint the shot is also very well framed with your flowers slightly off center creating a very nice informal balance.

    From a technical standpoint, this picture is near perfect. The assignment called for a shallow depth of field you were able to capture that by blurring both your foreground and background with a shallow depth of field.

    My only concern is that you may have put the focus line slightly too far back. It would have been nice if the center highlights of the flowers (the yellow part) was the small area of depth in sharp focus. However, I think the sharpest are is slightly behind the yellow highlights causing the center of the flowers to remain slightly out of focus. However, I really like everything else about this photograph. The textures are wonderful. There is a softness and a natural beauty due to the lighting conditions that you shot in.

    The second photograph you took is also very well done. However, it is suffering from a few more technical mistakes. Firstly, notice the large shadow in the foreground which serves no purpose? From a viewer’s standpoint, it’s a little distracting because we’re not sure what’s causing that shadow. It takes my attention away from the rest of the photograph.

    The motion blur portion is very well done and very interesting looking, but the composition of the shot could be better. You’re on the right track with the position of the subjects, but the cut off part of the tree top in the background is a little distracting to me as well. The camera should have been positioned slightly higher to get rid of the foreground shadow and allow you to capture the entire tree top (rather than amputating it with the top wall of your photograph).

    Both shots, however, are great. I can’t wait to see what you can produce next.

    in reply to: Third Assignment #18757
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Great photographs. Capturing fireworks in low lighting situations can be quite a challenging task. You’ve done a great job with both of these photographs. You’ve shown that you understood what the assignment asked of you. From a technical standpoint you’ve completed the assignment and shown your understanding of aperture and shutter control.

    However, I want you to keep a closer eye on the 4 walls of your photograph. In both pictures you’ve managed to line up the main attraction (main subject) in the proper position in the frame. It looks like thought has gone into the composition of the main subject. However, it seems to me that your eye might be wandering away from the 4 walls of the photograph. In the fireworks photograph you’ve cut off some of the fireworks streams. Which is arguably fine, but it might have been more dramatic if the entire firework was located within the frame.

    In the photograph of the plant, the depth of field is great. You’ve managed to use DOF to help your main subject “pop” out. However, notice how your plants leaf (at the top) is cut off by the upper wall of the photograph? I think it would have looked nicer to include the whole leave or find a subtler way to make that amputation if it was absolutely necessary.

    Both photographs show your skill from both an artistic and technical standpoint. The main point I’m trying to make is that they smallest details of composition are prohibiting your photographs from being spectacular. With photography, like with many art forms “the devil is in the details”. In your next assignment I want to see you pay extra close attention to the 4 walls of your photograph.

    Best of luck! Keep up the great work!

    in reply to: Shutter and aperture #18756
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Both are really great shots Anne. In the first photograph you’ve really done a great job of pulling the viewers eyes towards your main subject by blurring the background. You’ve also chosen great aperture settings because you haven’t lost the context of the shot at all. We can still see the ocean, the flowers and sky, which all help to create a beautiful mood. You’ve also managed to capture a great expression on your son’s face. It’s a candid shot and almost all photographers agree that great portraits happen when they are unplanned. This photograph has a very beautiful and natural aura to it.

    I can see your experimenting with your artistic ability in your second photograph. It’s a great concept. Playing around with reflections and shadows are two great ways to experiment with the artistic side of photograph. You also have water close to where this picture is taken. Consider using that as a reflective surface and try similar ideas when the sun in the right position to cast interesting reflections.

    You can sometimes bring out the shadows and reflection better if you increase the contrast in your shots. This enhances the “dark tones” and slightly darkens the light tones. But overall it puts more emphasis on the shadow. By increasing the contrast in this photograph look at what happens in the example I provided below.

    Most impressively, with this shot you’ve managed to use “color simplicity” with great success. The varying ranges of oranges add a very dramatic and upbeat feel to this photograph.

    Wonderful job!

    in reply to: Assignment 3 #18755
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Both photographs are really good. There are so many interesting elements within these pictures. The textures in hands as well as the texture within sculptures make for some interesting subject matter. Although this lecture wasn’t a black and white assignment I’ll take the time to correct a few of the mistakes that were made within the world of black and white photography. First however, I want to comment on one other element within your photograph.

    Although the composition within these photographs is interesting, there are some minor details that really stick out. The most important one being the “amputation” of your subjects by the 4 walls of your photograph. As stated in your learning material you need to be careful about the objects around the 4 edges of your photograph. Look at all professional photographs and notice how they rarely amputate a primary object, and when they do it looks purposeful and well managed. In your first picture of the hands, notice how you “amputated” the ends of the person’s fingers with the left hand wall of the photograph. It’s just the tips of the fingers that are missing but it’s very distracting. Try not to put all of your focus on the center of the frame. Pay attention to all 4 walls of the photograph and how they are interacting with your subject matter. Amputation is one of the most common mistakes that photographers make, but luckily it’s also one of the easiest to fix.

    Secondly when shooting black and white, and especially when you’re shooting things like hands and sculpture with lots of texture in them, make sure you have nice side lighting and you increase the contrast in your photographs by turning down the exposure slightly. Notice how in the photograph below by increasing the contrast I was able to get rid of some of the boring grey tones and increase the amount of “tonal range” in the photograph. It makes black and white photographs much more interesting.

    Great work. Keep it up!

    in reply to: Assignment 2 #18753
    Duncan Rawlinson

    What a pleasant and inspiring story. The pictures of the jewellery is spectacular. From a composition standpoint be careful about the shadows that the jewellery casts. It often creates an object in itself. So you either want to try and soften the shadow a bit or include the whole shadow in the frame.

    The photo of the watch has caught my eye in a big way. It’s absolutely stunning.

    You mentioned at the beginning of your short essay that that art should have a certain degree of “shock”.

    There has been media attention around this artist who is getting in major exhibitions and selling his work for millions of dollars. For those of you into shock art, you might want to check this out.. The artists name is Terence Koh and he specializes in photography, installation art and paintings.


    in reply to: Lesson Two. #18751
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Great source of inspiration. For other students who want to see more of his portfolio go to…


    in reply to: Assignment 1 #18752
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Wonderful shot. You’ve accomplished two major goals with this photograph. Firstly, you’ve simplified it from an “object” standpoint, and secondly you’ve simplified it from a “color” standpoint.

    You have effectively rid this photo of any boring, unnecessary or distracting element. I can emphasise how important this is. Great work.

    From a composition standpoint you’ve done a very good job. The ring around the scissor handles has been allowed to sit nicely in the frame, yet you’ve managed to create an aesthetically pleasing information balance in your picture.

    From a technical standpoint I think this shot is superb. However, I want to see you (more so than with just colors, and shapes), and play around with reflections. As you’ve mentioned in your post, the reflections in this shot provide a great enhancing element.

    Try thinking about how you can take this a step further. What if you were positioned in such a way that your reflection would have been in the window that’s visible in the scissor handle reflection. What if someone else was there looking out the window? What if the window, and not the scissors were the focus of the picture (using the scissors to show the reflection)? Photographers love reflections. Most find them in puddles, mirrors and so forth. The fact that you found one in scissors means you should play around with this concept more!

    Good luck and great work!

    in reply to: Amelia’s Lesson One #18750
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Great photograph & great job of making something ordinary look interesting. You’ve definitely captured the essence of what this assignment was about. As you’ve discovered, one of the best ways to do this is to get in closer to your subject. This accomplishes two major goals.

    1. It limits any distracting elements from making it into the 4 walls of your photograph
    2. It focuses instead of a clearer reproduction of elements in your primary object of focus.

    I really like what you’ve done with this photograph but there are a few minor things you should consider changing for next time. You haven’t touched on these subjects yet, but I want you to keep an eye out for them nonetheless.

    Firstly, you’ve managed to crop your picture very well. However, the shading on the left side of the frame looks like it’s own object. Consider finding a reflective surface or bring in a directional light to get rid of, or at least soften that shadow.

    Secondly, I love the details of the individual water holes. There is some really interesting texture in there if you get a little closer. However, I think it would help if you lit up the showerhead a little more.

    Other than that, you’ve done a great job. Just keep your eye out for shadows which alter the balance of your shot.

    Keep up the good work!

    in reply to: Inspiration #18749
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Great work Anne.

    I really enjoyed reading your report. Yes, with photography, more than with any other art form (with the exception of video) we are able to enter into the lives of strangers. There is an entire industry built around this relatively new concept. I will be interested in seeing how this theme pops its head out in your work.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to answer a question you posted in your last assignment. When it comes to blurring a photograph you have the following options.

    1. A soft blur where most primary elements are still recognizable
    2. A hard blur that creates an abstract feeling to the photograph

    Soft and hard blurs both have their place within photography. A soft blur gives a film like or dream like quality to your work. A hard blur focuses more on color and shapes rather than the context of the shot. The problem with your last shot is that it was somewhere in between, and your viewers were left guessing at what that object in the upper center of your photograph was. As a viewer I was really distracted and couldn’t figure out what the object was. I knew what everything else was, but that one object close to the center of your photograph played a primary role and confused me as a viewer. The problem is that you knew what the object was. You can probably still identify it in the shot. However, before seeing your second shot, I had no idea what it was. My recommendation to you therefore would be to either use less blur or go all the way and blur the entire scene and focus more on colors and shapes.

    Best of luck with your future assignments! You’re off to a great start.

    in reply to: Beast and Beauty #18746
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Wow. You’re definitely onto a very artistic idea. At first glance I thought the photograph was a little “busy”, but I think I can see what you were trying to accomplish. Let me begin by pointing out what I think you should do different next time then I’ll explore the creative possibilities of this shot with you.

    First, and most importantly, this photograph lacks clarity in 2 ways.

    1. It’s blurred and out of focus
    2. It lacks a distinguishable primary object for the eye to rest on.

    You may have seen this shot in your camera’s view finder and it looked fine. However, when enlarged to this size, the blur becomes quite distracting. It looks a little accidental to me. Secondly, you seem to have a primary object just above the center of the photograph but I can’t make out what it is. It’s a distracting feature as far as the photographs audience is concerned.

    So in future photographs I want you to play close attention to focus and finding a distinguishable element for the audience’s eye to rest on while it’s not exploring the rest of the photograph.

    However, from an artistic standpoint, you’ve come across something very interesting. Not only are you experimenting with one of photographers favourite tools (i.e. mirrors and reflections), but you’re also experimenting with the texture of the mirror.

    I noticed there is a slightly different texture that runs around the 4 edges of this mirror. When you zoomed in on your second shot, you’ve captured some of this edge. This created a second texture on part of your photograph. I think that is a very interesting concept and you should explore that idea a little more. Think about these ideas…

    1. what would happen if you put a texture like clear lip gloss on a mirror and then shot the mirror with something interesting in the background?

    2. What would happen if you were shooting through a window with some type of texture on it (i.e. Dirt, paint etc)?

    These create interesting foregrounds and can lead to some very interesting creative shots.

    From an artistic standpoint I think you’re heading down the right path. I just want to see you spend the time to focus on the technical elements as well.

    Keep up the good work! Let’s see what else you can do.

    in reply to: Lesson 1 – Assignment 1 #18745
    Duncan Rawlinson

    Great job! What you’ve accomplished is exactly what the assignment calls for. The object you’re working with was a great choice because from far away it may not look like much, but upon closer inspection there are a whole world of photographic possibilities within that one model car.

    You’ve also managed to do two things which are very important in photography. They have not been covered in the course material yet, but I’ll point them out to you because they are worth noting as accomplishments.

    1. Narrow range of colors: You’ve managed to incorporate a narrow range of colors into this photograph. It creates a simple, elegant and organized look to the overall picture. You’ve simplified the colors so much, it’s almost a black and white photograph. Color simplification is a great way to add a dramatic punch to your shots.

    2. Narrow range of primary objects: There are no distracting elements within this photograph. It’s all laid out and organized very well. This photograph looks “intentional” and well planned. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the “rule of thirds” yet, but you’re photograph’s horizon line follows that rule as well. Great job.

    The element that I think you’ve done the best job with is “texture”. It’s such an under explored element of photography. However, I can see the scratch marks on the car’s rims. It adds to such an interesting effect.

    I have two things I want to caution you about however. The depth of field effect is wonderful because you’ve managed to focus on the primary elements and you’ve blended the background away which makes it less distracting to look at. The shallower depth of field helps organize and simplify the photograph. However, I feel that you may have benefited from making it a little less shallow. Like I mentioned above, the texture on the wheel is great. However, I would have loved to see the same level of detail in the welding on the side of the car. However, because of the slight difference in distance, it’s slightly blurred (this may have been due to camera shake as well… but I have a feeling it was because of the DOF).

    Secondly, be careful with “amputation”. You cut off part of the driver’s side mirror. Make the decision to either include the element or exclude the element. If you’re going to amputate an object make sure it’s very well planned. Pay attention to the 4 walls of your photograph. It’s one of the biggest mistakes photographers make.

    Other than that…. Great job! I’m excited to see what else you can produce.

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